Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park
Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park was established in 1972. This land and sea park consists of four small cays and the water around them totaling 2,100 acres. It includes Channel Rock, Gaulding Cay and the southern portion of Sandy Cay. It lies approximately eight miles north of Cherokee Sound, Abaco.
On the seaward side of Sandy Cay lies the focal point of interest of the Park, Sandy Cay Reef, one of the most popular snorkeling reefs for tourist and an area of great beauty and diversity. The Park contains stunning undersea caves, extensive coral reefs and is noted for its fish, plant and animal life.
- Established: 1968
- Size: 1.5 Acres
In 1965, several American citizens resident in Abaco came together to form the Good Neighbor Foundation, Inc. this group of people desired to assist in the formation of a national park in Abaco, and to aid present and future generations by ensuring that they have recreational areas, and provide an alternative spot for visitors.
In a March 1965 letter to Premier Roland Symonette, Mr. Dixon Downey, the President of the Good Neighbor Foundation, suggested that the Sandy Cay reef be preserved because: “… this uniquely beautiful reef centers upon Sandy Cay, a relatively low, undeveloped cay immediately by North Bar Channel in Pelican Harbour. The reef is greatly admired by all who have seen it, including professional oceanographers”. Mr. Downey went on to say the advantages of this area were its protected location on the bank, white sandy floor bottom allowed people to see fish and corals, and its naturally occurring conch beds and fish schools. The presence of good anchorage also made attractive as a tourist vacation spot for snorkeling and beach combing.
In 1972 a ninety nine year lease was signed for the 2,100 acre region located 8 miles north of Cherokee Sound, Great Abaco for the Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park. It was established as a sister park to the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. It consists of beautiful underwater caves and extensive coral reefs. The Good Neighbor Foundation, Inc was supported by residents of Man-O-War Cay and neighboring island and in 1974 the Abaco Conservation Society was formed by them. This group worked closely with the BNT and they made donation to assist in the Green Turtle Project and to assist in the repair of the Cays.
Today this Park contains many forms of terrestrial flora and fauna, and has beautiful underwater caves and coral reef areas.
Importance to Biodiversity
Wildlife: A total of 177 species have been documented in the Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park. Commercial fish species are seen in the park regularly. Green turtles and Loggerhead turtles are seen on a regular basis suggesting a density of sea turtles in the area. Bridled Terns nest in colonies on High Rock and on the northwestern side of Pelican Cay beginning late April, early May.
Marine Mammal Survey: In January of 1991, Ken Balcomb and Diane Claridge, researchers based in Abaco, initiated a series of marine mammal surveys in The Bahamas. This survey determined the residency of Bottlenose dolphins in the vicinity of the Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park.